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MaltaToday 16 March 2022 MIDWEEK

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2 NEWS maltatoday | WEDNESDAY • 16 MARCH 2022 2 NEWS Bernard Grech promises new MCAST campus in Gozo LAURA CALLEJA A PN government will bring MCAST to Gozo, offering spe- cialised courses, Bernard Grech said while taking part in a polit- ical dialogue organised by the MCAST Student Council. Grech said that Gozitan's should be given the opportunity to attend MCAST without hav- ing to travel down to Malta. The PN leader said that MCAST was a dream of the PN and was carried out by a PN government, and today has become a success story. Grech went on to quote the PN manifesto, which proposed to introduce an apprenticeship scheme for the youth to prepare them for the world if a PN gov- ernment was elected. He stressed that from an early age, he had contributed to vol- untary activities, and as such, it is close to his heart. Grech said that while money was important, it was not everything. "there are other things that give you satisfaction in life." The PN leader said that a PN government would increase sti- pends by 25% to encourage more young people to participate in voluntary activities and contrib- ute to society. He said that young people are the present and future of the country and have a lot to offer society. "There is a need for more young people to take ownership of the issues that are going on in our country," Grech said. The PN leader said that this election of the youth as 16-year- olds will be able to vote for the first time, and they will be able to say where they want to take the country in the coming years. He also mentioned the invest- ment that will be made in ten new economic sectors which he said will generate money in the country, create jobs, while not harming the environment. Students had an opportunity to ask Grech questions. One stu- dent asked what the PN proposes for those students who are work- ing and studying at the same time in order to earn money. He said that the PN does not believe in a policy where checks are sent on the eve of the election. He said that aid needed to in- stead be given whenever people need it. Another student asked what the PN proposes for the arts sector. Grech said that the arts sector was very dear to his heart. "The cultural and arts sector is an in- tegral part of Malta, and I want to help this sector grow fully." The PN leader said that a PN government would help those who choose this sector as a pro- fession through a more advanta- geous tax rate. Another proposal is a grant of €500 to each young person who wants to gain experience abroad. 'Strengthen the healthcare sector' Grech also spoke about the health sector; he said a PN gov- ernment wanted to strengthen the framework for the prevention and treatment of diabetes under the guise of a national strategy against the condition. He said that continuing Continuous Glu- cose Monitors will be provided to all type 1 diabetes patients for free. The PN will also draw up a na- tional action plan for specialised care and open specialised health centres for the conditions that are the cause of the deterioration of the quality of life, such as di- abetes, cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease and dementia. Turning to the environment, Grech said that a PN government would follow the concept of the ESG criteria where those who will comply with these criteria will be rewarded in order to pro- tect the environment. MATTHEW VELLA PASSENGER traffic into Malta Inter- national Airport registered a sevenfold increase over the same month in 2021, though still remaining 45.2% below pre-pandemic 2019 levels at 196,000. But MIA has appealed for the removal of reminaing travel restrictions, with traffic figures showing signs of demand-driven recovery in tourism. Over the years, MIA's traffic for the month of February has been consistently lower or marginally better than January traffic. Last February's traffic bucked the trend as it registered a significant increase of 24% over January. "This double-digit growth indicates that the easing of travel restrictions, most of which had been introduced at the end of 2021, unleashed a pent-up demand for air travel," MIA CEO Alan Borg saod. "Further indicating that this increase was driven by demand rather than improved capacity, is the drop of 3 per cent in Febru- ary's seat capacity compared to January's." Standing at a healthy 70.7%, the seat load factor (SLF) for February was just 5.1 per cent lower than 2019 levels. "Our traffic results for February clearly show that two years into the World Health Organisation's declaration of a pandemic, people are ready to travel again. At the same time, our industry is facing a spate of new uncertainties and challenges, such as rising oil prices which are likely to push up fares, which are stemming from the war in Ukraine," Borg said. "With the summer season now just weeks away, it is imperative that govern- ments heed our industry's appeal in re- lation to COVID-19 restrictions. The re- moval of travel restrictions would not only help boost consumer confidence, but also give industry stakeholders the confidence to invest in their businesses and be opti- mistic for the future at this very delicate time." February saw the United Kingdom claim the top spot in Malta International Air- port's market leaderboard. From among the most popular five markets, the United Kingdom had the strongest growth rate over February 2021. Back then, stringent travel restrictions between the two coun- tries had limited traffic from this market to just 841 passenger movements. Italy, France, Poland and Germany made up the rest of the leaderboard, with a cumulative market share of 42.3 per cent. Airports Council International (ACI), of which Malta International Airport is a member, and the International Air Trans- port Association (IATA) on Friday called for the removal of all remaining COV- ID-19 restrictions applying to intra-EU and Schengen area travel, including testing requirements, the need to present proof of vaccination and the need to complete a Passenger Locator Form (PLF). Airport boss Alan Borg says time to remove COVID restrictions as travel picks up Malta International Airport CEO, Alan Borg

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